The Easter season is not as prominent in our culture as the Christmas season, which has both up sides and downsides for the church. I welcome the fact that so much energy goes into celebrating the Lord’s birth, while feeling sad that the culture seems to be putting more Santa than Christ in Christmas. There is a tendency at Easter as well to focus more on the secular elements of bunnies and eggs than on the Lord’s resurrection. I suppose one reason why people have downplayed the Easter story is that the traditional Christian doctrine is gloomy. A big mistake in the Christian world has been to see the Lord’s suffering on the cross as the whole of the Lord’s redemption, as if Christ saved us by suffering the ultimate punishment from the Father. This puts the whole focus on Jesus’ death instead of His life.
While it is pleasant and joyful to spend all of December celebrating the Lord’s birth as an innocent baby, who wants to spend a month in spring focusing on death and punishment? When we celebrate the resurrection of a loved one who has died, we celebrate the person’s whole life, from birth to death, with the hope and expectation of a renewed, joyful life in heaven. It would be sad and useless to spend a memorial service talking only about death and the last hours of life. In the Lord’s providence Passover was celebrated in the first month of spring because the escape from slavery in Egypt corresponded to the new beginning represented by the spring’s fertility and growth. Some people have criticized Easter’s bunnies, eggs, and flowers as pagan symbols, but the actual origin of those symbols was in the ancient church’s knowledge that the fertility and growth of spring corresponds to the fact that all life arises from the Lord. The same thing was represented by the Lord’s resurrection in the morning. The sunrise begins a new day as spring begins a new day, so the Lord is called the Sunrise or Dayspring (Luke 1:78). In fact, our word Easter is from the word “east,” which (like “orient”) means “sunrise.” I hope we can make our Easter celebrations more of a “season” like Christmas, yet with more focus on the Lord’s life and resurrection (rather than His death), and on the new birth and growth that comes from Him.